Language, religion, and communication
The case of Islam and Arabic in the Asia-Pacific
The Arabic language is associated with Islam and is the language of the Holy Qur’an, which Muslims believe to be God’s words. Due to religious, educational, socio-cultural, and geographic factors, Qur’anic Arabic is revered by many Muslims in the Asian Pacific countries, who use the language to perform religious rituals. Those Muslims use the language as an Islamic lingua franca to communicate with each other. This paper discusses the historical relationship between Islam and Arabic, how this relationship strengthens both of them, and how they both spread across the world, especially to the Asian Pacific countries that have the majority of the world’s non-Arab Muslims. It also sheds light upon the ways in which Islam preserves the Arabic language and converts it into a universal language that is used in all of these countries. This leads the discussion of how learning Arabic in Asian Pacific communities strengthens communication not only among Muslims but also within each Muslim to conduct his/her religious deeds, prayers, and behaviors. The paper also attempts to explore the possibility of learning Arabic as a foreign language by some Non-Muslims in those communities.
Keywords: Islam in the Asia-Pacific, Arabic in the Asia-Pacific, Qur’anic Arabic, Arabic maintenance, language maintenance
Published online: 17 December 2019